Jan 182021
 


Havukruunu

 

I’ve grouped together many of the preceding installments in this list (all of which you can find here) by various organizing principles that made sense to me. I don’t really have one for today’s Part of the list, other than the fact that both groups here are black metal bands and both make distinctive music, albeit in markedly different ways. One made a very big splash with their 2020 album, and the other is still beneath many people’s radar screens, though they deserve more attention (and maybe this post will help produce a bit more of that).

HAVUKRUUNU

This Finnish band just keeps getting better and better. They were a worthy choice for one of The Synn Reports last year (here), in which Andy meticulously traced their growth over three albums into becoming “masters of a scintillating brand of Black Metal which fuses the epic extravagance of their countrymen in Moonsorrow with the swaggering, riff-centric approach of Immortal and the fearless melodic mettle of Bathory“, while also making the sound something they could rightly call their own. Continue reading »

Jan 162021
 

 

CLEAN SINGING ALERT!

This past week I missed two days in the rollout of this list, for reasons explained when I was able to resume it. I also mentioned that I might try to catch up this weekend, et voila!

As the alert warns you, or maybe entices you, all three of today’s selections involve singing, and thus run counter to the rule in our site’s title. But as regular NCS visitors know, that’s never been an iron-clad rule. We have always made exceptions where exceptions are well-earned, and they are in the case of these songs. Plus, I found these songs highly infectious, so much so that I could not in good conscience omit from this list. (And these won’t be the last partially or wholly clean-sung songs to make the list.)

CIRITH UNGOL

Reunions and come-backs are a whole lot more miss than hit, but holy shit, have Cirith Ungol been hitting it out of the park since they came back together after almost 20 years of inactivity. Along with some great live shows, their 2018 single “Witch’s Game” was a sign that the band still had it. And last year brought further proof with the release of Forever Black, their first studio album since 1991’s Paradise Lost. Continue reading »

Jan 152021
 

 

In Part 7 of this list yesterday I focused on black metal songs that featured unusual instrumentation, and I mentioned that those wouldn’t be the last songs on the list that were distinguished in that way. In fact, I’m including two more songs in this eighth part of the list that could be grouped with the ones in Part 7. And although the first track below doesn’t completely fit the bill, it still always comes to mind when I think of the other tracks I’ve added to the list yesterday and today. They all make for a great playlist.

SHAGOR

The first song in today’s installment by this Dutch black metal band may not include unusual instrumentation, but it is unusual in other ways — especially in what happens at about three minutes in. I became well and truly hooked by it the first time I heard it, and I’ve stayed hooked. I get a thrill every time I hear it, really just as big a thrill as the first time. I spilled a lot of words about “Schemerzever” in a SHADES OF BLACK column, and I’ll repeat them here: Continue reading »

Jan 142021
 

 

Well, as you may have noticed, I missed two days in a row for the rollout of this list — the first one because I ran out of time before having to turn to my day job and the second one because the Seattle area where I live suffered a ferocious windstorm that killed the power and the internet at my home for what turned out to be 33 hours. So, I have some catching-up to do, and may do that over the coming weekend.

But for today I have three more songs from 2020 that I absolutely loved, and I have again made this particular grouping because of something they share. In this case it’s the use of unusual instrumentation in black metal (and these aren’t the only examples you’ll find in this list before it’s done). And it happens that those instruments are a big part of what makes these tracks so infectious.

GAVRANOVI

Gavranovi (Гавранови) is a Serbian word that seems to mean “ravens”. The band’s frontman is Nefas, who for almost 20 years was the vocalist for the great black metal band The Stone. A second member, Janković, who seems to be the principal instrumentalist, plays the gusle, a traditional horsehair-string instrument that dates back to the 9th century, and their lyrics emulate the form of Serbian medieval epic poetry. There also seem to be three more members, all of whom also perform vocals — Matković (who’s also credited as a guitarist), Sokolović, and Rančić. Continue reading »

Jan 112021
 

 

For obvious reasons, I couldn’t resist putting these three songs together for Part 6 of this list. They were all going to be on the list at some point, but the band names just cried out for combining them.

And the combination is especially delicious because the sounds are so distinct from each other despite the commonality of that one word.

I’ll also mention, for those who might be encountering this series for the first time, that you can find the songs that have preceded these on the list by clicking this link.

Continue reading »

Jan 082021
 

 

For this fifth installment of the list I’ve decided to include four songs instead of two or three. The impulse to include all of these together was irresistible, for reasons I think you’ll understand after you’ve heard all of them.

HELLRIPPER

From humble beginnings this solo project of James McBain has moved from self-releasing its 2015 debut EP (The Manifestation of Evil) and its 2017 debut album (Coagulating Darkness) to landing on the roster of Peaceville Records, which released Hellripper’s second album The Affair of the Poisons last October. For those of us who’ve been adherents of the music since early days, this was a happy development but not a shocking one. Continue reading »

Jan 072021
 

 

Welcome to Part 4 of this expanding list, in which I’ve paired two powerful (and, by definition, quite memorable) songs that I thought would make a good partnership in your listening today. (To check out the songs that preceded these two in the list, follow this link.)

ULCERATE

It’s my habit to introduce each song on this list with some words about the albums that included them, for the benefit of visitors who might be encountering them for the first time, or who might decide to delve into them more deeply, as a result of the selected songs. In the case of Ulcerate‘s 2020 album Stare Into Death And Be Still, that seems unnecessary. Given the widespread acclaim this album has received across a multitude of year-end lists (including many we published), who among you is still unaware of this album? Continue reading »

Jan 062021
 

 

On Monday of this week when I began the rollout of this list I noted that there were only 11 songs in my massive list of candidates that received more than two nominations among the sources from which I compiled it. Two of those, both of which were on my own personal list, are among the three in this Part of the list. The third one (which I’ve put in the middle of this threesome) is also tremendously good, drawn from an album that has received a lot of completely deserved acclaim.

SELBST

In his review my friend Andy proclaimed Selbst’s Relatos de Angustia one of the best black metal albums of the year (an opinion with which I completely concur). He later added it to his year-end list of Great Albums, and it also took the No. 4 spot on the year-end list by our friend Johan Huldtgren of Obitus. And of course those aren’t the only year-end lists I’ve seen which anointed it in similar fashion (I found it on five of our reader lists, and on many others scatted about the web). Continue reading »

Jan 052021
 

 

Today I’m leaning into death metal with Part 2 of this list, beginning with two songs that juxtapose tested veterans with some precocious teenagers (at least they look like teenagers), and then following that by turning to music from a pair of Germans who’ve been playing death metal in various groups since the mid-’90s.

FURNACE

Rogga Johansson has been, and still is, involved in so many projects that you’d have to possess eidetic memory to recite the list. He continues to spawn new ones at an astonishing rate, while also continuing to punch out albums from some of his oldest bands as if they had access to a fountain of youth. It was thus a surprise that out of all the 2020 albums that had his name associated with it, perhaps the one that has drawn the most acclaim is the newest of them all. Continue reading »

Jan 042021
 

 

Well, here we go again: For the 12th straight year I present my list of the preceding year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.

I’m going to dispense with repeating the operative definition of what I think makes a song “infectious”; if you’re encountering this series for the first time, go here to see that. But I will remind you what I do to compile the list, and why I currently have no idea how long it will be, or precisely when the rollout will end — which has been true in nearly every other year when I’ve done this. Continue reading »